NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) — Researchers at the J. Craig Venter Institute have sequenced the genome of the mosquito that carries viruses that cause yellow fever and dengue fever, the Venter Institute said yesterday.
The JCVI said the mosquito, Aedes aegypti, transmits viruses that cause half a million cases of dengue fever and 30,000 deaths from yellow fever each year. The institute said the sequence is yielding information that could be used to help eradicate the diseases.
The A. aegypti genome contains around 1.38 billion base pairs of DNA, and has an estimated 15,419 protein-encoding genes. The genome has been compared to those of the fruit fly and the Anopheles gambiae mosquito, which were sequenced more than five years ago.
The research, which appears in the current issue of Science, shows that A. gambiae and A. aegypti diverged approximately 150 million years ago.
The institute said it has found proteins and genes in the A. aegypti genome that “infer robustness” and that are unique to the species. These genes may therefore help researchers devise ways to arrest the spread of these diseases.
Nearly 50 percent of the genome is made of transposable elements, JCVI said.
Vishvanath Nene, the lead investigator of the project, said that having A. aegypti’s genetic code will help identify pathways that permit these mosquitoes to transmit the viruses.
“Interfering with the function of critical mosquito molecules could lead to effective control of this prolific pest and the devastating diseases associated with it," Nene said in a statement.
The work was funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and was originally undertaken by the Institute for Genomic Research.
The Broad Institute of Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of technology also collaborated early on the project, JCVI said.